How Sweden squanders its most important talent – Part 1: An attractive environment for pursuing a PhD
- by Ankit Gupta
The government in Sweden recently changed the law, making it more difficult for foreign nationals completing their PhD in Sweden to stay and work. This is the first in a series of articles where we are going to look at how the number of international doctoral students has increased in Sweden; how they contribute to Swedish research; and how difficult it is for them to stay in Sweden after graduation.
Sweden – An attractive environment for pursuing a PhD
Sweden is a highly sought-after country for international students to start their PhD. According to a study by the World Intellectual Property Organization, Sweden has scored in the top three as the world’s most innovative economies consecutively over the past five years. This, along with the very high English proficiency (scoring fourth in the world according to EF Education First (EF Education First Ltd., 2020)) and living standard makes Sweden a tempting destination to study abroad. It should not come as a surprise that Sweden’s high-ranking universities attract many students from all over the world to pursue their PhD degrees.
Approximately 35% of PhD students are international. The number is still increasing according to a study by Dryler stats in 2019. In the academic year 2018-2019 (Dryler, 2020), there were 6961 foreign students enrolled in doctoral-level education in Sweden (42% women; 58% men). This amounts to 36% of the total number of students pursuing their doctoral degrees.
The gender difference among the foreign doctoral studies is closing up. The gender ratio among all the PhD students in Sweden has been pretty equal (women~49/men~51) for the last 10 years. There is, however, a disparity in gender between the foreign students coming to Sweden as Seen in Figure 2. The trend, however, suggests that the gender gap has reduced and hopefully in the future, we can see it moving closer to 50%.
There is a disparity in the age of a Swedish and a foreign doctoral student. It is worth studying the age distribution of foreign and Swedish doctoral students. The average age of a Swedish PhD student is 40 as compared to 32 for a foreign PhD student. Most of the foreign doctoral students are in the 25 to 29-year age group. Compare this with half of the doctoral students with Swedish backgrounds (born in Sweden with at least one domestic parent) being 35 to 64. In general, we can see that foreign student distribution is completely opposite to that of Swedish PhD students as they age. There could be several explanations for this. Many swedes prefer to start their PhD after some experience in the industry. Also, good pay and parental benefit policies contribute to reducing the economic and familial stress for older pursuant.
All these people are doing an amazing job. Researchers at Uppsala University wants to eradicate cervical cancer (Loman, 2021), researchers in Linkoping University investigate that the alpha variant of Covid-19 is associated with more severe disease (Leifler, 2021), researchers at Lund University discovered stimulation method for pain release without any side effects (Lund University, 2021), researchers at Umeå University are investigating how the heating system of a building help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and energy cost (Söderbergh, 2021), a researcher at Karolinska Institutet explore how breastfeeding lower risk of type 1 diabetes (Molin, 2021), researchers at Chalmers University shows that yeast will make plant-based products taste like meat (Lindh, 2021), KTH researcher finds persistent water vapour in Europa’s atmosphere (Press KTH, 2021).
In the next blog post, we will focus on how the foreign doctoral students contribute to Swedish research, mentioning everything they bring to Swedish society.
Dryler, H. (2020, 05 26). Universities and colleges Foreign background for students and doctoral students 2018/19. Statistiska centralbyrån (SCB). Retrieved 09 26, 2021, from https://www.scb.se/publikation/40967
EF Education First Ltd. (2020, 01 01). EF English Proficiency Index. EF. Retrieved 10 05, 2021, from https://www.ef.se/epi/
Kahlroth, M. (2020, 08 26). Higher education institutions in Sweden – 2020 status report. Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ). Retrieved 10 14, 2021, from https://english.uka.se/about-us/publications/reports–guidelines/reports–guidelines/2020-08-26-higher-education-institutions-in-sweden—2020-status-report.html
Leifler, K. S. (2021, 09 20). Covid-19: alpha variant associated with more severe disease. Linköping University. Retrieved 10 29, 2021, from https://liu.se/en/news-item/alfavarianten-kopplas-till-sva-rare-covid-19
Lindh, S. N. (2021, 10 29). Yeast will make plant-based products taste like meat. Chalmers University. Retrieved 10 29, 2021, from https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Yeast-will-make-plant-based-products-taste-like-meat.aspx
Loman, A. (2021, 09 29). Research group that wants to eradicate cervical cancer. Uppsala University. Retrieved 10 29, 2021, from https://www.uu.se/en/news/article/?id=17484&typ=artikel
Lund University. (2021, 10 13). Pain relief without side effects with promising technique. Lund University. Retrieved 10 29, 2021, from https://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/article/pain-relief-without-side-effects-promising-technique
Molin, A. (2021, 10 18). Breastfeeding linked to lower risk of type 1 diabetes. Karolinska Institutet. Retrieved 10 29, 2021, from https://news.ki.se/breastfeeding-linked-to-lower-risk-of-type-1-diabetes
OECD. (2021, 10 29). Profile of graduates and new entrants. OECD.Stat. Retrieved 10 29, 2021, from https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?datasetcode=EAG_GRAD_ENTR_SHARE
Press KTH. (2021, 10 15). KTH researcher finds persistent water vapour in Europa’s atmosphere. KTH. Retrieved 10 29, 2021, from https://www.kth.se/en/aktuellt/nyheter/kth-researcher-finds-persistent-water-vapour-in-europa-s-atmosphere-1.1110526
Söderbergh, I. (2021, 10 11). So can the heating system of a building help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and energy cost. Umeå University. Retrieved 10 29, 2021, from https://www.umu.se/en/news/heating-system-of-a-building-help-reduce-carbon-dioxide-emissions-and-energy-cost-_10982829/
WIPO. (2021, 09 20). Global Innovation Index 2021. World intellectual property organization (WIPO). Retrieved 10 25, 2021, from https://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/wipo_pub_2000-section3.pdf
The government in Sweden recently changed the law, making it more difficult for foreign nationals completing their PhD in Sweden to stay and work. This is the first in a series of articles where we are going to look at how the number of international doctoral students has increased in Sweden; how they contribute to…